Agent of Change

A Blog by Cory!! Strode, who really should write something interesting here.

What I am thinking about today, 7/15/2022

I have read a few articles about how people are having an existential crisis over the first pics from the Webb Space Telescope as if shows the universe to be bigger and more filled with galaxies than most people thought. I almost feel back that I am not. One of the things that moved me toward atheism was realizing how big the universe is and how small we are. There is a vastness to things that is awe inspiring, but it also impressed upon me that we are a tiny part of that, so we have to take care of each other. There is a freedom to knows how small and insignificant we are in the scheme of things when you balance it with how important we can be to each other.

I have decided that the reviews of comics I do this month on Kray Z Comics and Stories will be Public Domain Comics you can download for FREE LEGALLY on There are so many great comics that have slipped into public domain, I want to highlight soe of the good ones. If you have suggestions, let me know!

I have officially cut back on the amount of time I am working at the group home. Over the last three years, I have been working as much as they ask, making sure to keep at least one day a week off, but the last few weeks, the office job has started getting harder due to a lack of staff, and last week I hit the wall. I had to ask Alexa what day it was, wasn’t getting enough time to decompress, and was looking forward to things like getting to the group hoem early and having 15 minutes to myself in my car. I know they need more hours from me, but both fo my jobs have been in “crisis mode” for two and a half years…and eventually, you have to just treat the crisis as if it’s the “new normal” and I can’t keep working for them as if it’s a short-term issue.

There was a discussion in a local Facebook group about a person “carrying” at a local fast food joint. I mentioned that if I see someone with a gun somewhere, I leave and tell the business why. Yes, it might just be some insecure loser who wants to show off his gun, but how do I know it’s not some “bad guy with a gun” looking to make himself famous by pulling off a mass shooting? Maybe it won’t change anything, but it’s my way of fighting against Gun Culture, which is literally killing us.

Every so often a big name band comes through the Minneapolis area I wouldn’t mind seeing. Then, I see ticket prices and the fact that you HAVE to buy the tickets through Ticketmaster or AXS…and they steer you toward the reseller tickets (because we allow them to “scalp” tickets) and I just decide not to do it. The last few shows I went to were in the Minneapolis VFW hall or First Ave. You pay $20 or so at the door and get a show. I like Bruce Springsteen, but I don’t like ANYONE enough to pay $300 for a seat in the nosebleed section. I’d rather see The Dollyrots, Jessica Hernandez, or The Beachers for $20 at a venue. NO rock concert is worth $300.

Be kind, be courageous, and be cool.


What I am thinking about today: 6/9/2022

1986 wasn’t a half bad year for me. I had recovered from my nervous breakdown and had completed therapy with new tools to take care of myself, moved out on my own, had three part-time jobs, a cool girlfriend, was doing college radio, and comics were REALLY good both mainstream and indy books. If I was forced to go back in time and relive a year, I could do much worse, and I wouldn’t have screwed things up as much.

Oddly enough, I was working at a college top 40 station and it was when I completely gave up on pop music since it wasn’t for me any more. My show was popular enough that they let me play and do whatever I wanted. And by popular enough, we would get two to three calls an hour, which was two to three calls more than anyone else. We did comedy bits, had conversations about current events, brought in characters and the like. I loved doing it but talking to people in radio, I knew that:

1) I wouldn’t be able to do that kind of thing

2) A local DJ I had befriended had told me the horror stories of being fired over and over until he was just working weekends on the radio and had a full time job selling computers.

Thank goodness for podcasting so I can kind fo go back to those days.

MJF did not show up, nor was he mentioned on All Elite Wrestling last night. I have to admit, I like the fact that I have no idea what will be happening with him, whether it is a shoot or a work.

I am putting together all the stuff for the latter half of the year, which seems so strange. I am setting up appointments, planning days off, and seeing if I can get away a couple of times. Hopefully down to Illinois to visit family in Late September. I’d like to take a winter vacation of being in a isolated cabin to just read, watch movies, and hit the gym with a fireplace where I read, but I always feel that is a waste of money since I can do that at home. Except for the fireplace.

I also see that Minnesota is giving front line workers a “thank you” payment of between $750 and $1500 for working during the pandemic. I will try not to waste it on comic books and….oh, who am I kidding, I will waste it on comics books.

Tonight is the first public hearing on former President Agolf Twitler’s attempted coup and the Republicans who were appalled by it (and then said it was no big deal) and in full panic distraction mode. I wonder why. It couldn’t be that it was an attempted coup with plans that had been put in place long before it happened, could it?

The incredible indifference I see about this attempt to install a dictator here in the US by the general public tells me even more that we are looking at the end of what was founded back in 1789 by our Constitution. Not a bad run for a representative democracy.

Be kind, be courageous, and be cool.

Much love to friends old and new.


What I am thinking about today: 6/3/2022

Just a reminder, if you leave my life without a chat to tell me why first, that door is closed. My therapist told me ages ago that if someone thinks the worst things said about you without asking for your side, they were never a friend and shouldn’t be allowed to be a part of your life any more.

My work laptop wouldn’t boot up yesterday, so I had to drive in to get a new one. When I got there, I gave it to the tech guy, and he said that my battery was bulging. And, to be honest, after a two year lockdown, aren’t we all?

When I worked in group homes for juvenile justice in the 90’s, they all had rules against Dungeons and Dragons as a hangover from the “Satanic Panic” in the 80’s. When I was asked about it, I let my supervisors know that D&D wasn’t about demons, it was math. Lots and lots of math. Endless amounts of math. And the teenagers we would get would not be nerdy enough to play the game. Since a lot of them were fundamentalist Christians, they didn’t believe me, since I was the token Heathen.

Still. Math. Maybe they were all just scared of figuring out percentages to hit.

It looks like the last drive in of the Twin Cities, the Vali-Hi drive in, has closed up. They had the “now hiring” notice on their sign, then took it down and haven’t opened yet. Their phone is disconnected and aren’t answering any questions from customers or reporters. When I moved here in 1987, there were 6 drive ins, and it was always a great time to take The Boy when he was young so we could have a cheap night at the movies. I went to Vali-Hi a couple of times a year until the pandemic, when I just didn’t have the time. They were always packed, but like the other 5 in the Twin Cities, eventually the land became worth more than the business.

I missed the “golden age” of drive ins, and always wished they would have had special events like “dusk til down” shows like in the glory days.

The Big Storm that had the local news going nuts a few weeks ago? No damages and not even a chair moved around by the winds. A quick storm rushes through Tuesday morning without a single warning from any of my devices, tree limbs down and blocking the car in the driveway. I am betting they were damaged in the Big Storm and this quick little squall was the last straw. But still.

Anytime I hear about Ron DeSantis, I have the same impression: A competent Trump. Florida seems like a right wing dream, where everyone is given a gun, gay people are being told to get out of the state, teachers are to become Marc Bolan: The Executioner, companies must bow and scrape or get financially punished, and women are to become Handmaidens. Sadly, much like Minnesota’s time having a Republican governor, the economy gets destroyed and the next governor has to clean up the mess. And he’s going to be the Republican Nominee in 2024 if he wins the Governorship again in Florida.

Be kind, be courageous, and be cool.

Much love to friends old and new.


They’re coming to get you, Barbara

I was mostly out of it yesterday due to some meds I had to take, but I was up and kind of alert around 8pm and looked around for something to watch. I am a fan of Joe Bob Briggs, and I haven’t had time to watch any episodes from this season, so I fired up the first one for the year.

The special guest was Svengoolie, who is probably the most famous horror host after doing it for decades and having a show on MeTV. The movie was: Night of the Living Dead.

I don’t know if I am a horror film fan (I like them, but I’m not a Fangoria reading, tons of DVDs of horror film, going to horror convention guy), but the Romero movies are my favorites. I loved old movies and after I got over my period of being scared of EVERYTHING as a kid, I would stay up to watch Pywacket Presents after the late movie on Saturday Nights on Channel 8. Pywacket Presents was the horror movie, and while I don’t know when it ended (I am thinking around 1981 – 1982) it started sometime before 1975, because I would watch it after Saturday Night Live.

If I could stay away until the late movie on Channel 8 ended, at least.

Most nights it was a Corman monster movie. Once in a while, they would have a Universal Horror or a recent Godzilla movie, but it was most 50’s black and white monster movies. I saw a LOT of my low budget loves there like Robot Monster, Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Crawling Terror, and the like.

By the time I was 12 or so, my parents would go out on Saturday nights, my sisters would be taken to a grandparent’s house, and I could stay home alone. We lived in the middle of nowhere, 3 – 4 miles outside a town of 350 people. I’d watch Saturday Night Live, read comics and watch the Monster movie.

However, one night, it was Night of the Living Dead. On Joe Bob, they said that they scene where the zombies eat the couple who were killed in the truck explosion was edited from the TV version, but it wasn’t edited out of this one. I watched this story of zombies surrounding people barricaded in a house in the middle of nowhere…in a house in the middle of nowhere. It affected me more than any movie I have seen before or since. Not the horror, not the gore. The nihilism. The starkness of it. The look at a civilization falling apart in a couple of days.

I was a kid who grew up in the shadow of the Vietnam war, the Cold War, the mounting fears of nuclear annihilation, the fading embers of the Civil Rights movement as the South and Right Wing realized how to use the levers of power to keep white supremacy in place by going subtle with it, and Watergate. This movie, and the books from the time helped me understand that things were not OK, and they never would be OK.

When Joe Bob Briggs showed it this year, he asked us to watch it like we had never seen it before. I have to admit, I have seen the movie more times than almost any movie in my life, and I even own the Criterion Blu Ray.

But this low budget horror movie, thrown together in bits and pieces, with improved dialogue, and now having the weight of so many interpretations from people layered on top of it, still packs a hell of a punch. I forgot all of the different essays and criticisms and studies and discussions and watched it with fresh eyes.

Tt is still one of the most powerful films ever made, and the characters can stand in for any group of people in conflict.
When Johnny says “They’re coming to get you, Barbara…” he’s not wrong.


What I am thinking about today: 5/24

-I did 13 and a half hours at the group home job Sunday, over half of it was alone. Everyone was quiet and happy to watch TV, snooze, or having me read to them (A chapter of a Travis McGee story, since they don’t quite grasp the story, just like the attention and time). I even made green beans that people wanted to eat, which is a feat in and of itself. I got home and just zoned out until I went to bed due to being spent.

-I have not seen the new George Carlin documentary yet, but anyone who knows stand up knows he was amazing. He constantly reinvented himself, never relied on old material once he had a new set., and invented a number of comedic styles. The only time I saw a bad set from him was his last HBO special where his anger and cynicism overtook the comedy, and for a long time comedian, that’s a great track record. A few “smart” comedians I used to like became angry old men, yelling at kids, or disappeared up their won ass as they moved into the later years of their career.

-I don’t think I have ever been as disappointed as when I saw Dennis Miller in 1998. Mitch Hedberg opened for him, and he was shook by how good Hedberg was, mentioning it as he started his set…and he did what a lot of comedian do when they get shook, fell back on tried and true material. The problem was that Miller’s act was based on current events, so he was making jokes about events from 3 to 8 years before, and he rushed through the set as if he was double parked. He must have done that a LOT, since he fell out of the Theater tours.

-One of his writers said he looked at his options as his gigs quit selling out, and the most lucrative one was the casino route, but he would have to appeal to the over 60 crowd, so he turned hard right with his humor. It cost him his HBO series, but he got a radio talk show and a Fox News gig, so less touring and he could let go of his writers to save money.

-And if you didn’t know stand ups have writers, boy, have you got a lot to learn. I even did some ghost writing for comedians in the 90’s. My NDAs mean I can’t say who, but you wouldn’t know them anyway.

-How many of you folks remember the Weekly News Update parody email I did from 1996 – 2006? Yeah, that’s where they bought the jokes from.

-I watched part of a USFL game this weekend and they didn’t have fans in the stands, but they did pipe in crowd sounds. Even the AAF and XFL had fans in the stands. However, unlike both of those spring football leagues, this one looks like it will finish its first season. The next version of the XFL just announced a huge deal with Fox, and with The Rock behind it, I have a feeling that it will do OK, since he’s smart enough to find smart people to run things.

-I read an article about how, since the pandemic, offices have stopped doing the “mandatory fun” stuff like happy hours, team building exercises, and the like. As an introvert, I couldn’t be happier. I just want to show up, do my job, and go home. And, with working from home, I LOVE that I don’t have to take part in group activities. My personal life is my personal life. ANY time I have forgotten that and allowed myself to blur the lines between work life and personal life, it’s not been pleasant. I work to pay for my personal life.

Be kind, be courageous, and be cool. Much love to friends old and new.


What I am thinking about today 5/16/2022

-I got called in for a sleeping overnight Saturday night at the group home. Then, since I had to be at another house at 7 am, I left at 6 am, and when I got to the other house I was called back to the first house due to a staff now showing. Then, I worked until 6 pm instead of 3 pm due to staff not showing. So, 21 hours in three houses overall. I was home less than 5 minutes before I was called and asked if I could come back. I turned it down because I was pretty much exhausted.

-Reports are the Marvel is losing the Conan license for new books (but will keep doing reprints) and the current rights holder wants to create the comics. While I have loved the work Marvel has done on Conan, the sames haven’t been great. The books, which used to be a must stock in book stores, seem to have faded as well. Even the books by modern authors faded by the mid 90’s. Much like Tarzan, IMHO.

-Many of these long running characters have moved to niche products with small press books and the like. In many ways I don’t think “Why aren’t they more popular” so much as “I’m happy we get anything at all.” Even the 70’s Men’s Adventure” pulps like The Executioner, Blade (the book series), The Death Merchant, Able Team, and the like have faded to the point where nothing new is coming out with them.

-Most of my wrestling friends have talked about Tammy Sytch, the former Sunny, and her ongoing legal issues and criminal charges. She’s been putting people in danger with her drunk driving for years and finally caused the death of a man in a crash. Hopefully, this finally locks her up so everyone around her is safe. She’s been given endless chances and times in rehab, and none of it has worked. And, when she is finally locked up, I hope never to hear about her again because we only hear about her when she’s done something illegal.

-I read a DEEP dive in to Republican Madison Cawthorn on Politico, and it just made me shake my head. He was never qualified for office, has been a weasel for as far back as there are records about him, the Republican party is firing at him with everything they can find and he’s still leading in the polls. I swear if you have an R by your name in some places, they’d elect you from jail.


Stay Classy, Indiana.

-One this I miss about the height of the COVID lockdown was not hearing about a new mass shooting every day. I wonder if most people in the US know that other countries now don’t recommend their citizens come here for tourism due to the prevalence of mass shootings and police brutality.

-Kind of a downer today. I’m tired and a bit down myself and should have avoided the news like the plague this weekend. I also lost most of the time I set aside for taking care of things in the house, so I feel like I didn’t get a real break over the weekend.

Be kind, be courageous, and be cool. Much love to friends old and new.


George Perez has left us

George Perez passed away on Friday after a period on hospice care. If you are a comic book fan from the last 40 years, you know his work. He started in comics back in the mid 70’s and quickly showed he was one of the best super-hero artists of all time. If you have friends who are comics artists of professionals, they have been posting tributes to him all weekend, sharing their favorite stories drawn by him, and stories of his kindness.

He was a joyful presence at conventions, loving the interactions with fans, making each signing and meeting memorable for the person on the other side of the table because he just loved comics and the culture around it.

One of the things coming out about him the last few months is how many people he gave a helping hand to in the industry. Recommending people for jobs, hiring people when he could, giving time and art to the Hero Initiative, which is a charity for comics creators who have fallen on hard times, and so much more. He was happy to meet his fans, generous with his time and had a personality that filled the biggest convention hall.

Some of my first comics were his first art on the series that made him a star. I was given Avengers 140 by a babysitter’s sister, which was his first job on that book. The first issue of the Fantastic Four that was not a reprint I bought was 171, where he was the new artist. I followed him from book to book and then over to DC (I was a kid who only bought Marvel until Roy Thomas jumped companies).

His artist was bright, each character looked different, and the stories had action and quiet moments. In fact, when reading an interview with Marv Wolfman about their collaboration and he said that many of the quiet, personal moments in the series were added by George.

The only good thing about this is the George and his family let us know he was entering hospice, and wanted to spend his time telling the people in his life how much they meant to him, and allowed us to all let him know how much he was loved. He was loved for his art, his personality, his kindness, and the joy he gave all of us.

Krayz Joe Rider and I did a podcast back when the announcement was made to talk about our love for his work. His passing leaves behind a body of work that will be impossible for anyone to match, lives who were touched by him, and a sadness that’s hard to put into words.


What I am thinking about today: 5/6/2022

It’s perfectly ok to be angry. We are told by people all the time that anger is a negative emotion. Emotions, on their own, as neutral. It’s how we react and what we do with them that makes the negative or positive. Anger can be a catalyst for change is channeled properly.

We have a person we support at the group home with Covid. She’s young, vaccinated and boosted. She doesn’t understand why she’s sick or why she’s restricted to her room, but is sick enough she doesn’t want to pace and wander like she normally does. The staff at that house are back in full PPE, but it looks like she will make a full recovery.

We do have a person I support on hospice care in the house I work at most often. He has been on hospice care since late last year, and a lot of his medications were removed, which in many ways improved how he was reacting to the world around him. Hospice changes how people are cared for in that everything moves from recovery to comfort. This was a hard mindset for me to get into when I started in group homes for DD adults. It’s still not an easy mindset, but I do try to do all I can to let the person do and have things they enjoy.

I am taking the weekend off from the group home for Free Comic Book day and still making sure I still have a complete day for relaxing and doing things around the house. I even have tonight off from the group home and I literally can’t remember my last Friday Night off.

I am almost done with the second Terry Brooks book in the Prequel trilogy for the Shanarra books, and a few things have struck me. First, his prose is easy to read. It’s simple, descriptive and moves the story along. None of the pretentiousness that puts me off fantasy novels. Second, after the first book being filled with lore, world building, and subplots, this one is focused on a single plot and it is a vast improvement. Third, the “mystery” is painfully obvious. Fourth, we have a lead character who has magic and never uses it. The author tries to handwave away why it isn’t being used, but the truth is that if she used it, the story would be 20 pages long. If it’s hard to put your powerful character in danger, MAYBE DON’T MAKE THEM POWERFUL.

“Cory!!, why are you so hard on novels that are clearly meant to be light entertainment?” Because when I am editing my own work, I am ruthless at attacking plot holes. Anything that can throw the reader out of the story and feels like writing is a pet peeve of mine.

Two episodes left for me to watch in this season’s Star Trek Discovery, and I have generally enjoyed the season. The bridge crew still is under developed, the seasons are too short and too focused on the overarching story (I’d like a few episodes of exploration) but overall I like New Trek. I know some people don’t. Plus ca change Plus c’est la meme chose.

Be kind, be courageous, and be cool.


What I am thinking about today: 5/2/2022

The interview I posted with Nyla Rose was the first one I have done where I had to deal with publicists, approvals, having them send me the audio and the like, and it was also time limited. I thought it was neat that they said if I needed to do any pickups or re-records to let them know, since I am used to just taking what I have and editing it into an episode. The ending that they felt was clumsy sounds good to me, and I send them to audio last week (before it was posted) so show I am a good media partner. I keep moving up with a combination of hard work, hustle, and pure curiosity. I hope you listen to it and like it, since Nyla is a fascinating person.

By the way, I had to take three days to write the last paragraph because it sounds like bragging, which I have been in Minnesota too long to feel comfortable with. NONE of this would be possible if you folks didn’t download the podcast, listen to it and tell your friends to do so. So thank you for letting me play at being a radio host on the internet.I am re-reading some older comics I enjoyed in the past or got incredibly far behind on.

This week I read the first 20 issues of Hellblazer (the original run) and it took a while for the book to find it’s footing. It started with a series of one shot horror stories that led to a “big revelation about John Constantine’s past” with the 12th issue. The art was hard to follow, the coloring didn’t help in any way, and the stories themselves were fairly hit or miss and could have been ANY horror comic. After the 12th issue, they changed art styles, went for more traditional coloring, and focused more on Constantine than the plot, making the stories feel more like he had a part in them. Back then, comics could get away with taking some time to find their groove. Now, if you aren’t a hit out of the gate, you’re done. I wonder how many comics of the last decade could have become great over time if given some time to settle into a groove.

The second series I am revisiting is the Garth Ennis Punisher MAX series. Let’s face it, Ennis figured out how to write the Punisher because he had written Judge Dredd. Dredd is a British character that has been in weekly comics since 1977, and he does not change. It’s all about making the villains and the plots interesting, and Dredd is a force of nature. Same for the Punisher. He can’t “change and grow” because if you do that, he’s not the Punisher any more. His run is incredibly violent, disturbing, and the kind of book Marvel doesn’t do any more since the MAX line is dead. It’s an amped up version of the 70’s “Men’s action novel”.

I feel like the only wrestling fan who doesn’t own a belt. I don’t WANT to own a belt. The Championship Belt is something should be earned, not purchased. And yes, I know that the outcomes are pre-determined, but the person who si a champion has earned the belt by their work ethic, causing fan reactions, and showing they can be trusted by the company to be in that role. It’s like buying an Oscar or a Grammy. But that’s just MY way of thinking. I’ll stick with t-shirts and the like.

Be kind, be courageous, and be cool.

Much love to friends old and new.


What I am thinking about today, 4/25/2022

When Elon Musk buys twitter, he will claim he invented it after a few months.

I was called in for a sleeping overnight late on Saturday because the overnight staff called in. When I got there, one of the supervisors asked what I was up to on a Saturday night when I got the call. “Watching a documentary on the sketchbooks of Orson Wells.” Because I am a party animal like that. And the other staff they had contacted were at the bars.

Sunday was super quiet at the group home. My Buddy was excited for the first half hour or so, and then settled into his chair to watch soccer. He sat in the chair like a teenager, slumped down and twisting his head a bit, and during commercials he would play the game where he would look at me until I noticed, then look away. I did the same thing, and he would clap until the game was back on, and then he was engrossed in that.

Oh, and the Orson Wells documentary was wonderful. I knew little about his art, but the documentary took the form of a letter to Orson asking about his drawing style connecting to his film style as well as his life. I know when a lot of people think of Wells, they think he peaked with Citizen Kane, but his other movies are incredible as well, he just either didn’t get to finish them himself, or they were so low budget they didn’t have the sheen of Kane.

When Cable started, they didn’t have ads because you were paying for it. Eventually they started adding ads because they weren’t meeting growth projections. The same thing is happening with streaming services now that every company seems to have a service. The other thing that is following cable’s growth is that when it started, they would do all sorts of crazy crap to see what would work and what wouldn’t. Old movies, weird comedies, concerts and the like. Streaming started by being experimental, but is pretty much coalescing around the same entertainment models as broadcast TV and cable. Let’s hope streaming can keep some of the experimentation and weirdness.

The election in France is concerning in that the Fascist candidate got 40% of the vote. We are dealing with a wave of fascism across the world as people seem to want totalitarian leaders. They call for absolute control, racial purity, military strength, and a promise that THOSE people won’t be allowed to have any political power. They want THOSE people to know their place, be invisible or just not exist. I don’t know what is bringing about these things, but it reminds me that as smart as we think we are, we are still the same scared hairless apes that are scared of anything different and break into angry tribes at the first chance.

“Generation Z is being told to come back to the office and are quitting instead.” Good for them. The last two years have proven that the idea of coming into an office is an outmoded idea, and young people don’t have the years of equity in those jobs to put up with things they think are stupid. If I would have had to go back to the office, I would seriously consider finding a different job, and I hate job hunting with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.

Be kind, be courageous, and be cool.


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